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Recipe: Pearl couscous salad

By Viv Moon, 24 Sep 2016 Bush Cooking

Recipe: Pearl couscous salad

Don’t be put off by the words “couscous” and “salad” – this is a delicious, no-fuss meal.

Don’t be put off by the words “couscous” and “salad” – this is a delicious, no-fuss meal.

Serves 8
2 cups of pearl couscous
½ packet of dried cranberries – roughly chopped
½ to 1 cup of semi-dried tomatoes – roughly chopped (to taste)
½ cup of slivered or flaked toasted almonds (to taste)
The seeds from ½ to 1 whole pomegranate (optional)
Salt and pepper to season

Option 1 – lemon vinaigrette
¼ to 1/3 cup of lemon-flavoured vinaigrette dressing (or use something like a basic French dressing)
1 to 2 tsps of curry powder (to taste)
1 tsp of honey or sugar (to taste)

Option 2 – cranberry-pomegranate vinaigrette
125ml of oil
90ml of cranberry pomegranate juice
1 tbs of balsamic vinegar
1 heaped tsp of wholegrain mustard
1 heaped tsp of brown sugar
Salt and pepper (to taste)


  • Make up two cups of pearl couscous, following the packet instructions.
  • While the couscous is cooking, get the remaining ingredients together.
  • Combine all the dressing ingredients in a bowl (or screw top jar) and mix well to combine. Adjust flavour with more dressing if need be.
  • Pour some of the dressing into the salad and gently fold through until well mixed. Add more dressing to the salad as you need or just before serving.

You could add any of the following ingredients: currants, freshly chopped mint, or pistachios. You can also make it into a Mediterranean-style salad by using roasted tomatoes, olives, artichoke hearts, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, smoked paprika and feta. For more flavour, cook the couscous in chicken stock.

Pearl couscous can be used in recipes that you would use orzo (risoni) or other pasta and rice. Add a handful to thicken a soup. Use it as a base, topped with some roasted vegetables. Use it in a pilaf, instead of rice.

The pearl couscous grains will fluff up just slightly when cooked and have an al-dente texture.

For a bit more flavour, toast the dried pearls for a minute or two in butter or olive oil before cooking, just like you would do for making a risotto.

Because Israeli couscous is made from wheat flour, it is not a gluten-free food; although, it is vegetarian. It also has a low glycaemic index, making it a healthy and high-fibre food.

Please don’t be put off by the use of the pearl couscous; it is nothing like the finer African couscous, which is a type of North African semolina in granules made from crushed durum wheat and which is cooked by steaming (or absorption). Most people buy the instant couscous in supermarkets which has been pre-steamed and dried and which Ron says tastes like “cardboard” (he isn’t a big lover of instant couscous).

The pearl couscous is really good and easy. Give it a try, and with this salad mixture you’ll find it a popular dish.